31/03/2017 - 11:00

Artist in residence with Adam Mitchell

31/03/2017 - 11:00

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From staging performances in his backyard as a young child to working with Perth’s top talent in numerous Black Swan State Theatre Company productions, freelance ‘theatre maker’ and 2017 40under40 winner Adam Mitchell has built a successful career in the arts. 

Artist in residence with Adam Mitchell
Adam Mitchell on the set of Black Swan State Theatre Company’s 2016 production of Clinton the Musical, which he directed last year. Photo: Daniel James Grant

From staging performances in his backyard as a young child to working with Perth’s top talent in numerous Black Swan State Theatre Company productions, freelance ‘theatre maker’ and 2017 40under40 winner Adam Mitchell has built a successful career in the arts.

It is a livelihood that has led him to direct more than 40 productions with Black Swan, the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Playwriting Australia, the Sydney and Melbourne Theatre companies.

Mr Mitchell has also since become a member of the prestigious Lincoln Centre Directors Lab in New York and has received the Equity Guild award for best director in WA, three times.

One work, The Great Ridolphi, which he directed with local company The Last Great Hunt, won several awards at last year’s Fringe Festival, and in June will be restaged at the Subiaco Arts Centre before it tours Europe.

“There’s something really special about sharing an experience with 500 or so people in a live theatre context,” Mr Mitchell told Business News.

“It’s a real-time conversation you don’t get in pre-recorded media, it makes theatre alive and incredibly powerful if we can get all the ingredients to work.”

Incorporating new technology and challenging audiences’ perspectives are two key ingredients Mr Mitchell likes to add to each of his productions.

“We have so much competition for our entertainment dollar; we need to lure people off their couch away from Netflix to actually get to an experience that, hopefully, will be far more rewarding,” he said.

“There will always be a place for the classics but we also need to be making more space in our mainstage companies for new ideas and new ways to tell stories.”

Mr Mitchell has also played a key role in helping local artists break into the industry by establishing Black Swan’s young writers’ program and directing the company’s HotBed Ensemble program, which offers emerging playwrights the opportunity to create and stage two plays.

Beyond the theatre realm Mr Mitchell owns a Jetts Fitness gym in Melbourne, which is run under management.

“Regular employment is difficult in our industry, I’ve been incredibly lucky,” Mr Mitchell said.

“I didn’t want a lack of finances to ever stop me from being a full-time artist, so I invested in a business that doesn’t take any time or effort away from that.

“There are only so many hours in a week and only so much energy to be creative.”

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